Stories about Osama bin Laden

Zero Dark Thirty: Disgusting misrepresentations and false stereotypes

The hype surrounding the movie Zero Dark Thirty has found space into every conversation; be it in classes or at dinners. Everyone seems to have an opinion about one or the other aspect of it; while some people argue it is a very well made movie, there are many others who view the legitimacy of the plot and implications of the movie very sceptically. Zero Dark Thirty is a historical drama about the CIA’s hunt for the top al Qaeda leaders, primarily Osama bin Laden. The movie has been nominated for five Oscars and is a Hollywood blockbuster. A majority of the ...

Read Full Post

Zero dark thirty: Entertainment, not a documentary

If ever there was an appropriate name for a film, Zero Dark Thirty is it. The title here, which is military speak for the ‘middle of the night’, not only stands for the pitch black hour at which Osama bin Laden was apparently killed by the US Navy SEALs in Abbottabad, Pakistan, but represents the murky nature of the decade long clandestine hunt for the notorious al Qaeda leader.  Zero Dark Thirty highly dramatises these events to create a supremely gripping intelligence film which clicks on multiple levels due to the cold gun-steel style of its director, Kathryn Bigelow (Hurt Locker.)    Yes, it is ...

Read Full Post

Does Pakistan have female spies?

While security apparatuses seem to be dominated by ‘strong-men’ who presumably show less emotion, women have made substantial gains in the intelligence business, at least in the United States.  Newsweek ran a story titled “The CIA’s Secret Weapons” highlighting the increasing participation of women in the agency’s counter-terrorism efforts, especially on the analysis side. Analysts that assist in targeting and kill/capture missions are usually referred to as ‘targeteers’ in agency speak. The criterion of intelligence analysis specific to counterterrorism work involves creativity, patience, persuasiveness and determination. Mark Owen, the author of “No Easy Day,” which depicts a detailed account of the Osama ...

Read Full Post

Drones strikes and Obama, two things I’m not voting for this year

After what seems like a quick four years, elections are only a month away in the United States and the two candidates are Mitt Romney of the Republican Party and the current President who is up for re-election, Barack Obama. Whether the American citizens like it or not, Pakistan is a strategic ally in the so-called ‘war on terror’ and relations with Pakistan have never been so important. Pakistan also has its share of issues and dissatisfaction and hatred for the United States is definitely one of them. Of course, this year election year is important not only for ...

Read Full Post

A good time to cultivate relations with India

On a lazy Sunday morning on April 8 this year, President Asif Ali Zardari flew into New Delhi. His host, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, was waiting to receive him with open arms and on the table were not only the best delicacies of his country, but also the agenda on which the future of the region and perhaps, the world hinges on. In my opinion, the visit was crucial, not only because it enabled the top leaders of two hostile nations to come together, but also because its timing was of immense significance. It came about when the US and ...

Read Full Post

Dr Shakil Afridi’s verdict: A can of worms

Dr Shakil Afridi recently got sentenced to a virtual life-imprisonment, courtesy of the Jirga that decided his fate. Putting all emotions aside along with issues that surround the debacle of what remains of the US-Pakistani relationship, this case has raised some very pertinent and challenging questions, all of which stimulate yet more controversies.  First things first – Afridi ran a fake vaccination campaign. This is totally, irrefutably unethical on every level. The trust and bridges that international aid organisations have built over decades were swept away by one vain action of a doctor. People in Pakistan already look upon vaccination efforts as ...

Read Full Post

The insignificance of judicial commissions

Yesterday was the first death anniversary of Osama bin Laden. Pakistanis assumed the role of victims following his killing due to the unprecedented incursion launched by foreign troops on our soil. But what remains a matter of concern is the knowledge that we were host to the world’s most wanted person. The incident jolted the world, but Pakistan in particular, because it added yet another feather to the capful of bad impressions Pakistan leaves on the world community. A judicial commission was formed to determine if negligence led to the national embarrassment. A year later, the commission has not finalised anything ...

Read Full Post

‘Bin Laden is not dead’ and other conspiracy theories

During a discussion with some fellow medical students, I was astounded to observe that they thought 9/11 was a Jewish conspiracy and that al Qaeda is just a figment of some people’s imagination. I found it surprising how most of them did not know the origins and genesis of al Qaeda, one of the largest terrorist organizations in the world. The aim of writing this post is not to launch a tirade against the conspiracy theory culture prevalent in our society. It is to discuss a couple of popular controversies and try to provide some answers to the much debated ...

Read Full Post

A year after Bin Laden: Could it happen again?

A year after the Abbottabad raid that plunged the US-Pakistan relationship to a new low, one big takeaway is that America’s general public is finally familiar with the name of at least one Pakistani city (though this does not mean we and our media have a handle on its geographical location). But on a more serious note, could there be an Abbottabad redux? Could there be another unannounced assault on Pakistani territory to take out a big-ticket terrorist? If there is one thing President Obama has demonstrated in recent months, it is that he is influenced by the hard-line rhetoric emanating ...

Read Full Post

Problems and progress: Reasons to celebrate Pakistan Day

Is Pakistan the most exciting place to live in the 21st century? On the eve of the 72nd anniversary of the Pakistan Resolution, the evidence appears to be stacked overwhelmingly in Pakistan’s favour. Consider this: the Pakistani people are frontline warriors in the greatest ideological battles of the 21st century. Whether it’s the war against religious extremism or the definitive showdown between democracy and entrenched dictatorship, the Pakistani people are playing an outsize role in shaping not just their own future, but also a new, post 9/11 world order. If you want front row seats to witness 21st century history in the making, Pakistan ...

Read Full Post